Think Your Drink

When it comes to nutrition, it is important to pay attention to not only the foods that you eat but also those that you drink. With so many beverages to choose from, selecting a healthy option can often be overwhelming. In addition to taste, it is important to consider how many calories or fat grams a drink contains and how many nutrients it includes. Next time you reach for a beverage, consider these five tips to help you re-think your drink:

1)      Reach for water when thirsty- In addition to being inexpensive, convenient and calorie-free, water is a great thirst quencher. Consider carrying a water bottle with you each day that can be refilled as needed. To add flavor to your water without adding extra calories, consider adding a slice of lemon or lime.

2)      Choose 100% fruit juice- Don’t confuse fruit flavored drinks and 100% fruit juice. Fruit flavored drinks may contain a small amount of fruit juice but also include added sugar. When it comes to nutrition, 100% fruit juice is your best option.  Juice is a great way to get more servings of fruit into your diet and important nutrients like vitamin C. Just watch your portion sizes as the calories from fruit juice can add up quickly.

3)      Make it low-fat or fat-free when it comes to milk- Milk contributes many important nutrients to our diet including calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium  and others that contribute to bone health and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends consuming 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat dairy products such as milk each day. These lower-fat varieties contain all the same nutrients found in full-fat dairy products but have less fat and calories.

4)      Limit empty-calorie drinks- Empty calorie drinks are those that provide calories to our diet but contribute little to no nutrients with those calories. Examples would include soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks. These drinks can fit into a healthy diet in moderation but pay attention to portion sizes and make sure that these drinks don’t crowd out healthier options such as water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice. When it comes to children and teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that energy drinks are not safe for this age group due to the stimulants they contain.

5)      Sports drinks only when breaking a sweat- Sports drinks contain fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates and are a great way to rehydrate and refuel after engaging in moderate to high intensity exercise for an hour or more. However remember these drinks do contain calories and there is no benefit to consuming them when we are inactive so to quench your thirst while relaxing or participating in leisurely activities, reach for water instead. 

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